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Eric Haase supplied early Fourth of July fireworks at Comerica Park on Saturday afternoon, crushing a pair of homers, and driving in a career-high six runs, powering the Tigers to an 11-5 blowout victory over the White Sox. The unheralded 28-year-old catcher received an assist from White Sox center fielder Billy Hamilton, who came up empty on a diving catch attempt on a 108-mph line-drive to shallow center field in the fourth inning. The ball rocketed under Hamilton’s outstretched glove, rolling all the way to the warning track, which enabled the relatively speedy slugger to fly around the bases for a go-ahead, three-run inside-the-park home run. He managed to leave zero doubt on his second round-tripper of the contest, walloping a three-run, opposite-field blast to right field against lefty reliever Jace Fry in the seventh inning.
Haase’s dramatic metamorphosis from minor-league journeyman into a middle-of-the-order force for the rebuilding Tigers has been one of the most remarkable storylines of the entire first half. He’s recorded four multi-homer performances already and compiled a solid .250/.304/.563 triple-slash line with 11 homers and one stolen base across 138 plate appearances. Pedestrian plate skills limit his overall offensive upside, yet Haase has proven that his uptick in over-the-fence power hasn’t been an early-season mirage. At a bare minimum, he’s an extremely intriguing fantasy contributor who should be monitored closely over the final three months of the 2021 campaign.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Taijuan Walker vs. Yankees
5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
28% CSW, 6 swinging strikes
Walker authored a dominant performance against the Yankees on Saturday afternoon in the Subway Series opener, carrying a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, before giving up a solo homer to Aaron Judge with one out in the frame. He finished with five strikeouts and only issued two walks. It wasn’t an overpowering effort, as evidenced by an underwhelming six swinging strikes and a paltry 28 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs), but he induced plenty of weak contact against a formidable Yankees’ lineup. The 28-year-old right-hander has been one of the best free agent signings from last offseason, compiling a pristine 2.44 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 87/27 K/BB ratio across 85 innings (15 starts). He's lined up to face the Pirates at home on Thursday in his final start before the All-Star break. Given his stellar first-half performance, there’s a strong possibility he’s headed to Coors Field for the All-Star Game in two weeks.
Adbert Alzolay vs. Reds
7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
35% CSW, 15 swinging strikes
Tyler Mahle vs. Cubs
5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
32% CSW, 17 swinging strikes
There weren’t exactly a ton of standout pitching performances on Saturday afternoon, but Alzolay and Mahle locked horns in a rare pitcher’s duel at Great American Ball Park. Let’s start with Alzolay, who matched the longest outing of his career, completing seven frames in this one, but was ultimately saddled with a tough-luck loss. The 26-year-old righty generated 15 swinging strikes and finished with a robust 35 percent CSW. He’s blossomed into a reliable mixed-league fantasy option, compiling a respectable 4.48 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 76/21 K/BB ratio across 72 1/3 innings (14 starts) this season. He’s lined up to face the Phillies at home on Thursday in his final outing prior to the All-Star break.
Mahle struggled with his control, handing out a season-high four free passes, but also notched seven strikeouts, and limited the Cubs to a solo homer by Kris Bryant, which accounted for the lone earned run against him in this one. The 26-year-old righty has delivered a phenomenal 3.63 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 112/31 K/BB ratio across 89 1/3 innings this season. He’ll square off against a sizzling-hot Brewers lineup on Thursday in his final start before the All-Star break.
Kyle Muller vs. Marlins
5.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K
32% CSW, 18 swinging strikes
Sandy Alcantara vs. Braves
6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K
21% CSW, 9 swinging strikes
Muller wasn’t quite as dominant on Saturday afternoon against the division-rival Marlins as he was in his previous two starts against the Reds and Mets, respectively. He struggled with his control, handing out a season-high four free passes, but still managed to induce a whopping 18 swinging strikes, and rack up seven strikeouts in this one. The 23-year-old lefty has emerged as an intriguing streaming option for fantasy managers and finds himself in line for a tasty matchup against the Pirates on Thursday in his final start prior to the All-Star break.
It wasn’t exactly pretty, but Alcantara took care of business on Saturday, limiting the Braves to an unearned run over six frames to collect his fifth win of the season. The 25-year-old workhorse has taken a massive step forward, recording a solid 2.96 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 97/33 K/BB ratio across 112 2/3 innings (18 starts) this season. He’ll square off against the Dodgers at home on Thursday in his final turn before the All-Star break.
Hitters with an EDGE
Avisail Garcia vs. Pirates
4-for-5, R, 5 RBI
Omar Narvaez vs. Pirates
5-for-6, 3 R RBI
Garcia served as the Brewers’ main offensive catalyst, propelling them to their 11th consecutive victory on Saturday afternoon, with an epic four-hit, five RBI effort against the Pirates at PNC Park. Amazingly, Milwaukee plated 11 runs without a round-tripper in this one, racking up an absurd 16 hits in the process. Garcia made his presence felt right away, after missing three consecutive games due to a sore left hamstring, kicking off the scoring with a two-run double off the left-center field wall in the opening frame. He also added RBI singles in the second and eighth innings, before capping the monster performance with an RBI double in the ninth inning.
Meanwhile, Narvaez delivered one of his best offensive performances on Saturday afternoon, collecting a career-high five hits, including an RBI single against righty Cody Ponce in the second inning. The 29-year-old backstop has been one of the most valuable catchers in the entire fantasy landscape, slashing .303/.395/.462 with 31 runs scored, seven homers and 25 RBI across 228 plate appearances this season.
Brandon Nimmo vs. Yankees
3-for-6, 2 R
Dominic Smith vs. Yankees
3-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI
Nimmo made an immediate impact in his return to the Mets’ lineup on Saturday afternoon, after missing nearly two months due to a partially detached ligament in his left hand. He sliced a leadoff single versus lefty Jordan Montgomery in his first at-bat since May 5. He also added a one-out single in the fifth inning before tacking on another single versus lefty reliever Justin Wilson in the sixth inning. The 25-year-old on-base machine has recorded five three-hit performances in just 23 games this season. Simply put, he's worthy of a roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues.
Smith spearheaded the Mets’ unexpected offensive outburst in the Subway Series opener, tallying three hits, including an RBI single to center field against lefty Jordan Montgomery in the fifth inning. He also drilled a two-run double off lefty reliever Justin Wilson in the sixth inning. It was his fourth three-hit effort of the year for the 26-year-old outfielder, who homered twice in his previous game on Thursday night.
Carlos Correa vs. Indians
2-for-2, R, HR (16), 2 RBI, 2 BB
Correa reached base safely in all four of his plate appearances on Saturday evening. He kicked off the scoring with an RBI single in the opening frame and also walloped a solo homer to left field off righty Eli Morgan in the fourth inning. The 26-year-old impending free agent owns a remarkable .300/.401/.534 triple-slash line with 60 runs scored, 16 homers and 52 RBI across 342 plate appearances this season.
Heath Hembree vs. Cubs
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (3rd save)
Hembree hurled a scoreless ninth inning on Saturday, protecting a one-run lead against the Cubs to record his third save of the season. Less than 24 hours after closing out Friday’s narrow victory over the Cubs, the 32-year-old righty got the call again, striking out a pair of batters to work around an infield single to slam the door. The Reds’ closer situation has been an absolute quagmire for the majority of the 2021 campaign, but Hembree has provided some stability recently, and appears to be the favorite for saves moving forward. He’s worthy of a roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues.
Ranger Suarez vs. Padres
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (1st save)
The closer carousel continues to spin in Philadelphia, with Suarez getting the call to guard a two-run lead on Saturday evening versus the Padres. The 25-year-old southpaw managed to fire a perfect frame to convert his first save of the season. Given the presence of Jose Alvarado and Hector Neris, it’s difficult to forecast Suarez continuing to receive save opportunities. However, as Kevin Garnett once said, “anything is possible.”
Scott Barlow vs. Twins
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (4th save)
Barlow needed only 16 pitches to slam the door on the Twins, protecting a three-run lead in the ninth inning to collect his fourth save of the season. The 28-year-old righty has converted four of his five save chances so far.
Yimi Garcia vs. Braves
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (13th save)
Garcia slammed the door on the Braves in the ninth inning on Saturday, preserving a one-run lead to earn his 13th save of the season. The 30-year-old righty surrendered a two-out infield single to Freddie Freeman, but was able to get Ozzie Albies to line out to right field to end the ballgame. He’s converted 13 of his 16 save opportunities, compiling a solid 2.61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 32/8 K/BB ratio across 31 innings this season.
Ryan Pressly vs. Indians
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (14th save)
Pressly recorded a pair of strikeouts in a perfect ninth inning on Saturday night, preserving a one-run lead against the Indians to net his 14th save of the season. The 32-year-old righty hasn't allowed an earned run over his last 12 appearances dating back to June 2. He's been one of the premier closers for fantasy managers, converting 14 of his 15 save opportunities this season.
Daniel Bard vs. Cardinals
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (12th save)
Bard tossed a scoreless ninth inning late on Saturday night to protect a one-run lead against the Cardinals. The 36-year-old righty has been shaky in the first half, converting just 12 of his 17 save chances. There simply isn’t a superior alternative in the Rockies’ bullpen at this point.
Raisel Iglesias vs. Orioles
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (16th save)
Iglesias has been simply magnificent over his last six appearances, tossing eight perfect frames with a whopping 15 strikeouts, since June 23. He’s converted 16 of his 19 save opportunities this season. He’s on fire right now, folks.
Kenley Jansen vs. Nationals
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (21st save)
Jansen made things interesting, allowing a pair of baserunners on Saturday night, but still managed to wriggle out of the ninth inning unscathed against the Nationals for his 21st save of the season. The 33-year-old veteran stopper hasn’t allowed a run over his last 12 appearances dating back to June 1. He’s converted 21 of 23 save chances this season.
Jake McGee vs. Diamondbacks
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (16th save)
McGee collected the final save of a busy Saturday night for closers, tossing a perfect ninth inning to net his 16th save of the season. The 34-year-old southpaw has re-established himself as the Giants primary closer, and hasn't given up an earned run since May 30.
EDGE Priority Pickup
Tylor Megill, SP, Mets
Megill has held his own in a pair of starts against an extremely talented Braves' lineup, allowing just five runs on eight hits with a 12/4 K/BB ratio across 9 1/3 innings, since being promoted from Triple-A Syracuse back on June 23. The 25-year-old righty has shown flashes of immense strikeout upside, generating 21 swinging strikes over those two outings. He's an extremely risky streaming option against a high-powered Brewers' lineup on Monday evening, but his fantasy stock will skyrocket if he excels against another extremely tough opponent. He's at least worthy of a speculative roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues moving forward, especially with lefty David Peterson sidelined for an extended period due to an oblique injury.
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Sunday’s Matchup of the Day
DeSclafani has shockingly morphed into one of the premier pitchers in the National League, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 15 of his 16 starts to open the 2021 campaign. He’ll square off against Smith, who has been on a nice run lately, posting a sparkling 2.87 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 35/17 K/BB ratio across 31 1/3 innings (six starts) since rejoining the Diamondbacks’ rotation on June 1.
American League Quick Hits: Shohei Ohtani will make his next start on the mound on Tuesday against the Red Sox … Gerrit Cole will start the first game of Sunday's doubleheader against the Mets … White Sox manager Tony La Russa told reporters Saturday that Yasmani Grandal (calf) is "much improved" and isn't expected to be sidelined for an extended period … Yoan Moncada (hand) remained out of the White Sox' starting lineup on Saturday for the second consecutive game … Jose Ramirez (elbow) was held out of the Indians’ lineup on Saturday against the Astros … Kyle Tucker (back) remained out of the Astros’ lineup Saturday … Michael Brantley was scratched from Saturday's lineup against the Indians with right side discomfort … Josh Donaldson left Saturday's game against the Royals with right hamstring tightness … John Means (shoulder) will begin a minor-league rehab assignment on Sunday with High-A Aberdeen … Aaron Judge ripped his 19th homer of the season in the Yankees’ loss to the Mets … George Springer homered for the second consecutive game and Santiago Espinal belted a two-run shot in the Blue Jays’ win over the Rays … Jonathan Schoop went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and three RBI in the Tigers’ blowout win over the White Sox … Whit Merrifield picked up his major league-leading 23rd stolen base and Edward Olivares launched his first home run of the season in the Royals’ victory over the Twins … Seth Brown went 3-for-5 with three RBI in the Athletics’ comeback victory over the Red Sox in a 12-inning marathon … Eli White slugged a three-run homer and John Hicks added a pair of solo homers in the Rangers’ win over the Mariners … Abraham Toro went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and Myles Straw stole his 13th base of the season in the Astros’ win over the Indians … Shohei Ohtani walked three times and Jared Walsh went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the Angels’ win over the Orioles … Trevor Larnach came off the bench to hit a solo homer in the Twins’ loss to the Royals … Enrique Hernandez went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Red Sox’ loss to the Athletics in extra-innings … Kyle Seager went 2-for-2 with a solo homer in the Mariners’ loss to the Rangers … Manuel Margot swatted a solo homer in the Rays’ loss to the Blue Jays … Eddie Rosario went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored in his return to the Indians’ lineup … Alex Cobb yielded one run over 7 2/3 innings in a win over the Orioles … Jake Odorizzi was charged with two runs (one earned) over six innings in a win over the Indians … Ross Stripling gave up one run over 5 2/3 innings to pick up a win against the Rays … Tarik Skubal struck out six batters and was charged with five runs over five frames in a win over the White Sox … Cole Irvin yielded four runs (two earned) over seven innings in a no-decision against the Red Sox … Garrett Richards allowed two runs over five frames in a no-decision against the Athletics … Danny Duffy gave up two runs over four innings in a no-decision against the Twins … Jordan Lyles struck out six batters over six innings in a win over the Mariners … Shane McClanahan was charged with three runs (two earned) over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Blue Jays … Jordan Montgomery was tagged for three runs over 4 1/3 innings on Saturday in a loss to the Mets … Dallas Keuchel was torched for seven runs over four innings in a loss to the Tigers … Eli Morgan gave up three runs over five frames in a loss to the Astros … Griffin Jax was lit up for six runs over five innings in a loss to the Royals … Jorge Lopez was rocked for four runs over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Angels … Marco Gonzalez was obliterated for seven runs (six earned) over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the Rangers … Michael King recorded nine strikeouts over four scoreless innings on Saturday in a relief appearance against the Mets … Bobby Dalbec (hamstring) returned to the Red Sox’ lineup on Saturday … Clint Frazier (vertigo) will undergo additional testing next week … Angels optioned RHP Griffin Canning to Triple-A Salt Lake … Indians activated C Roberto Perez from the 60-day injured list … Rays activated SS Taylor Walls from the 10-day injured list … Orioles acquired INF Kelvin Gutierrez from the Royals for cash considerations.
National League Quick Hits: Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Saturday that Kyle Schwarber has a “significant” strain of his right hamstring … Trea Turner (finger) remained absent from the Nationals’ starting lineup on Saturday … Diamondbacks placed RHP Zac Gallen on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain … Padres manager Jayce Tingler told reporters that he's "confident" Blake Snell (illness) will make his next start on Sunday against the Phillies … Mets manager Luis Rojas said Saturday that David Peterson could miss up to eight weeks after being diagnosed with a strained right oblique … Noah Syndergaard (elbow) played catch at Yankee Stadium on Saturday morning … Carls Carrasco (hamstring) could return in late-July or early-August … Tylor Megill will likely have his next start pushed back to Monday's series opener against the Brewers … Jazz Chisholm Jr. exited Saturday’s game against the Braves with an apparent ankle injury … Trevor Story clobbered a go-ahead three-run homer in the Rockies’ win over the Cardinals … Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater walloped two-run homers to propel the Giants past the Diamondbacks ... Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins slugged solo homers in the Phillies win over the Padres … Jace Peterson went 2-for-5 with four RBI and a stolen base in the Brewers’ lopsided victory over the Pirates … Joey Votto went 2-for-2 with a solo homer and Tyler Naquin also went deep in the Reds’ narrow victory over the Cubs … Garrett Cooper went 2-for-4 with a solo homer to lead the Marlins past the Braves … Kris Bryant tallied three hits and also tattooed his 16th homer of the season in the Cubs’ loss to the Reds … Manny Machado drilled a two-run homer in the Padres’ loss to the Phillies … Freddie Freeman collected three hits and reached base safely in each of his five plate appearances in the Braves’ loss to the Marlins … Ben Gamel went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Pirates’ blowout loss to the Brewers … Yan Gomes drilled a three-run homer in the Nationals' loss to the Dodgers ... Yu Darvish collected eight strikeouts and allowed four runs over six innings in a loss to the Phillies … Clayton Kershaw yielded three runs over four innings in a no-decision against the Nationals … Sammy Long struck out six batters over four innings in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks … Zach Eflin gave up two runs over six innings in a win over the Padres … Wade LeBlanc tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Rockies … Kyle Freeland hurled six shutout frames in a no-decision against the Cardinals … Eric Lauer allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings to pick up a win against the Pirates … Paolo Espino surrendered three runs over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Dodgers … Jake Faria allowed four runs over four innings in a no-decision against the Giants … Cody Ponce left his start on Saturday against the Brewers early due to right arm soreness … Nationals acquired INF Alcides Escobar from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations … Marlins acquired RHP David Hess from the Rays for RHP Justin Sterner and cash considerations … Pirates acquired 1B John Nogowski from the Cardinals for cash considerations.